I’m thrilled to share a Q&A today that I had the opportunity to do with Tiffany Kelly. If you’ve been into macro photography for the last few years, you probably already know that Tiffany is the macro master! Her fresh look into the world of macro has inspired me since I discovered her a few years ago. She wanted to focus on capturing mood with lighting, and even if you’re not into macro, there’s still a lot to learn from today’s Q&A!
Q: How did you get interested in shooting macro and up close?
A: I got interested in macro photography for the first time in early 2012, when I was starting a daily shooting project and quickly running out of photo ideas. I realized I could go in my yard and make a new image every day if I wanted to by using macro photography. At the time I had one daughter and she was only 9 months old so I quickly ran out of ideas for ways to creatively capture her. Macro photography became a really important, therapeutic outlet for me.
Q: What do you look for first when shooting this? (subject, lighting, background, etc?).
A: I look for the subject first… I find something that is interesting and inspires me. Then I pay attention to the background and move myself around if needed.
Q: What do you find the most challenging part of shooting macro or up close?
A: I have been doing it for so long that really my main challenge is getting stuck inside my own box, shooting things the same way, etc.
Q: What tips can you share about capturing emotion in still life subjects?
A: I think light, mood, and emotion are all very tied together. So think about light when considering what emotion you want to convey. If I want a happy image, I want a lot of light to create a bright, cheerful photo. If I want a darker, moodier image, I will use a small pocket of light or side light and ensure I have shadows and a dark background.
Q: What types of lighting do you use for your images?
A: Every type of light! I prefer natural light but will use artificial light when needed. For macro I love backlight, sidelight, flat light… there is really no bad light for macro. One thing I love about macro is that I think any type of light can work. Again, I think light is really tied closely to mood. Think about the atmosphere you want to create in your images. If you want a bright and airy image, try shooting outside with golden backlight. If you want to create a more serious, melancholy mood, try shooting inside with lots of dramatic light and shadows. Even the exact same subject can look totally different with different lighting. You can also use editing to further enhance your mood and vision.
Q: What do you do when you get bored of shooting the same things?
A: Go on a photo walk! Even around my neighborhood, I am always amazed at what I find.
Q: If you could go back in time and tell yourself some tricks for mastering macro faster, what would you say?
A: Honestly I really wish there had been a macro workshop back then! I think it would have really speeded my progress rather than it taking me years to teach myself. At the time, every blog post and educational material I could find about macro had a really old school approach that just did not fit with my shooting style at all. Everyone said you HAVE to shoot with a tripod at f/22 and I thought that was so stifling and ridiculous. So I set out to find a way to shoot macro that was fun for me and fit my own style.
Q: What gear and equipment do you use for macro?
A: I shoot with a Nikon d850. My favorite macro lens is the Lensbaby velvet 56, followed by the Nikon 105mm. I also love to freelens with a Nikon 50mm 1.8D.
Q: What are your typical settings?
A: Obviously this depends, but my “go to” starting point is f/4, SS 1/250, and whatever ISO is needed for proper exposure.
Q: How important is editing in your final image?
A: Honestly I don’t feel like I do much in editing. I typically use Lightroom only and I have a preset that I love (from Brit Chandler’s authentic set). I love a slight matte added and then sometimes I play with the HSL sliders, depending on the image.
I invite everyone to join us for #macromay on IG! We have amazing prizes and all you have to do is follow each sponsor and then every image you tag with #macromay is an entry to win! It is also super fun to scroll through the hashtag for inspiration and eye candy!
Tiffany Kelly is a portrait and fine art macro photographer who lives near Atlanta GA with her amazing husband, two adorable daughters, and one loyal rescue mutt. Tiffany enjoys celebrating everyday moments with her young daughters and can often be found dancing around her kitchen with them. She loves finding beauty in the mundane and capturing little details.
Find her work here!